Chronic Sexual Harassment
This case involved the chronic sexual harassment of a young single mother by the general manager of an East Texas company. The sexual harassment took place over a number of years and the victim, who was a single mother sought to deal with the abuse by avoiding the owner. Although the young mother needed the job she finally determined that she could not tolerate the sexual harassment and quit.
While a portion of the harassment occurred during the two year period prior to the time that she quit, the majority of the harassment was prior to the normal two year statute of limitations. However, pursuant to the “continuing violation doctrine” which applies to sexual harassment cases, because the abuse was an ongoing sequence of events and some of those events had occurred within the two year statute of limitations we were able to bring a claim for all of the misconduct even though much of it had occurred more than two years prior to the filing of the lawsuit.
The sexual harassment by the general manager included comments about the young mother’s breasts, slapping her on the bottom, requesting that she show the owner her breasts, requesting various sexual favors, showing her pornography in his office, sexting sexually explicit pictures to the young mother, sending sexually explicit e-mails to her and making lewd comments about her body in the presence of others. Because the perpetrator was the general manager of the company it was not necessary that a written complaint be filed nor that the company be given an opportunity to correct the situation because, in effect, the company was the perpetrator.
Pursuant to Section 21 of the Texas Labor Code an employee of a company with 101 to 200 employees may recover up to $100,000 in pecuniary losses (including counseling and moving expenses), compensatory damages (including mental anguish damages), and punitive damages. A sexual harassment victim may also recover back pay, future lost wages for a reasonable period of time, costs and attorney’s fees.
In this case the young mother was making approximately $50,000 per year and it appeared unlikely that she would be able to replace the job for a number of years. A demand was made for her back pay, future lost pay, counseling expenses, moving expenses, mental anguish damages and punitive damages. This case was settled for a substantial confidential amount.
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